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The bottom line for Harwood’s 2014 budget is either $12,962,561 or $13,082,128 depending on whether the school board funds a level service budget or one that includes $119,567 in additional spending.
That $119,567 represents increasing the school nurse by a .5 FTE ($25,173) and doing the same with a library assistant ($16,630). That includes increasing tech ed from a .83 FTE to a 1.0 FTE ($12,856), increasing a language arts position by .50 FTE ($35,560), two ninth-grade team leaders ($3,660) and including $9,689 for summer professional development work for teachers. Some of the above expenses would be balanced by the reduction of 1.0 FTE business teacher ($76,000).
Those staffing changes were slated to be discussed at a Harwood Union School Board meeting on January 16 as The Valley Reporter went to press. Washington West Supervisory Union business manager Michelle Baker did not have a full budget spreadsheet available by press time.
Other items on the proposed budget include $5,000 for a car for drivers ed, $15,000 for a truck for operations and maintenance (for the next three years), a $24,500 phone system, $26,443 to replace computers, $10,195 for equipment and furniture and $10,861 for materials/supplies.
The level service budget includes 2.3 percent negotiated salary increases for professional and support staff at Harwood Union as well as a 1.1 percent increase in benefit increases for staff. Harwood Union’s health care costs are expected to rise 15 percent. Health care costs for the Washington West Supervisory Union (WWSU) staff are rising 14.6 percent.
Harwood Union is also anticipating special education increases of $371,409, which are expected to be offset by special education revenues. Transportation costs at Harwood are expected to rise $79,781 and the school’s WWSU assessment will rise $15,475.
The projected budget increases are due in part to revenue decreases due to declining enrollment. Harwood’s 2012 budget was based on 803.55 equalized pupils. The 2013 budget was based on 780.44 equalized pupils and the 2014 budget is based on 769.72 equalized pupils. Vermont’s education funding system provides a base education amount of funding per pupil.
In 2012 that amount was $8,544. In 2013 that amount was $8,723. The estimated payment per equalized pupil in 2014 is $9,151 – although the Legislature will make that decision. Harwood’s per pupil spending in 2012 was $12,634 per equalized pupil. In 2013 Harwood’s per pupil spending will be $12,793, and under the proposed funding/budget scenario the 2014 per pupil spending will be $14,117, an increase of 10.4 percent.
Because Harwood’s proposed per pupil spending will be greater than the state average, and because the budget is expected to rise more than 3.2 percent, taxpayers in the district will face two budget votes. Under the terms of a 2007 law, voters will first be asked to approve a budget that is equal to the current per pupil spending, plus 3.2 percent. Then voters will be asked to cast a separate ballot for the rest of the budget.